Bill passage seen as increasing China's hold over Hong Kong

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Hong Kong Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan, center, speaks to the media surrounded by pro-democracy lawmakers after a controversial bill had passed, outside the legislative chamber In Hong Kong, Thursday, June 14, 2018. The Hong Kong Legislative Council had passed a controversial bill on Thursday on the co-location checkpoint arrangements for a cross-border Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong express rail link, a high speed rail link that connects Hong Kong and mainland Chinese cities. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

HONG KONG (AP) - Hong Kong's legislature has passed a bill that will allow Chinese authorities to enforce their own laws within a portion of the semi-autonomous territory.

Independent lawmakers believe the bill governing the Hong Kong terminus of the rail link from the Chinese city of Guangzhou contravenes the Basic Law, the city's mini-constitution that was adopted after the former British colony was handed over to China in 1997.

The bill passed late Thursday allows passengers to clear Chinese border checks inside Hong Kong at the end of the 26-kilometer (16-mile) high-speed rail line.

Beijing is seen as stepping up pressure on the territory's legal system and civil liberties.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the legislature's offices Thursday to watch a live broadcast of the debate and the following vote.